Hubballi: BJP knew Kulkarni would lose Jamkhandi

Hubballi: The BJP was reportedly aware that its candidate Shrikant Kulkarni did not stand a good chance in the Jamkhandi Assembly bypoll and it's worst fears were confirmed when he was  defeated by his Congress rival by a huge margin.

Although the party's internal survey had predicted that his victory was not likely to be a cakewalk,  Bharatiya Janata Party’s state unit president B S Yeddyurappa had no choice but to field him under pressure from the RSS which emphasised that “Kulkarni comes first and the party next” in Jamkhandi, claim party sources.

Mr Kulkarni was fielded in the bypoll ignoring three other strong contenders for the Jamkhandi ticket, including Mr Sangamesh Nirani, who were strongly against his candidature.

He was reportedly rewarded for having worked hard to strengthen the presence of the BJP and Sangh Parivar in Jamkhandi taluk for nearly four decades.

He won the Assembly election for the first time in 2008 after being defeated in three previous elections, but his detractors contend that he  sidelined party workers after becoming legislator and allowed his offspring to interfere in the BJP affairs, causing resentment among the local leaders.

“The BJP began to lose its base in Jamkhandi due to Kulkarni's ill-treatment of ordinary party workers.  Yeddyurappa and other leaders had planned to give the ticket to either me or two other aspirants, Jagadish Gudagunti and Umesh Mahabalashetty. We had promised to work unitedly if the ticket was given to one of us. But they fielded Kulkarni," regrets Mr Nirani.

BJP leaders also claim the Congress spent Rs 35 to Rs 40 crores to woo the voters of the constituency. “The Congress misused government machinery.   The BJP still managed to secure 11,000 more votes than in the previous election,” says yet another BJP ticket aspirant, Basavaraj Sindhur.


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